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Who Loses?
DeSoto County Alternative Center
Posted On: Monday, October 24, 2016

                                                                                   Who Loses?

 

“The solution begins with recognizing that every person is a person. Every single person has the capacity to be something meaningful in this world. If we do not give them access to themselves by exposing them to the truth of their humanity in education, then we will lose them, and we will lose what they had to bring to us.”

 This is a quote from Dr. Steve Perry, principal at Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, which graduated 100% of their students in 2006, all of which were from impoverished communities and families. He was quoted during a visit to Mississippi last year at a meeting with the state’s Department of Education officials. This quote gets at the heart of what we at DCAC hope to avoid through the application of our program.

 In the last 35 years, we as Americans have allocated more than $1.4 Trillion to the federal Department of Education. This shows that we are highly motivated to invest in the human capital of our children. The issue is that throwing money at the problem does not seem to be working. The United States is still in the middle of the pack when compared to other developed countries, whereas soon after World War II we were leading. More locally, however, Mississippi has historically lagged behind the rest of the country. Here in Desoto County, we tend to achieve more success than the rest of the state. This is in part due to the presence of an effective alternative school program at DCAC.

 One of DCAC’s primary purposes is to keep students in the classroom, despite their disciplinary issues. We give such students a chance to reform their behavior and continue their education at the same time. This is exactly what Dr. Perry was driving at with his statement. The alternative to DCAC is extended suspension or expulsion from school, and according to a recent report by Robert Balfanz of John Hopkins University, titled “Sent Home and Put Off Track”, students who enter high school with three suspensions on their record are 49% more likely to drop out. For these students this means lower pay, higher likelihood of poverty, and increased chances of incarceration or run-ins with the criminal justice system. This also means, as Dr. Perry put it “we will lose what they had”, and we cannot continue to do that as a society.

 We here at DCAC are on the front lines of this effort. We continually attempt to right student’s behavioral ships. These efforts are helped that much more when parents and community leaders reinforce, at home and in the community, the values we teach here at DCAC. If we continue to work together in this way, we all benefit from the successes of the students whom we help to achieve their educational goals.

 

Ben McChesney

GED Instructor

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